Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
FarangFarang

Thailand - Land of smiles or tourist trap?

Recommended Posts

(Reuters) - Two Canadian sisters die mysteriously in their rented bungalow on an idyllic Thai island, believed poisoned. Less than a week later, a 60-year-old Australian woman is stabbed to death in a botched robbery outside a luxury resort in Phuket.

Their deaths are the latest in a tumult of violence and intrigue to shake tourism in postcard-perfect Thailand, raising questions over whether it is squandering a prized asset by failing to protect travellers arriving in record numbers.

Other headlines are less dramatic but equally troubling: taxi driver mafias, transvestite thieves, pollution, tourist brawls, traffic accidents, and at airports, radar glitches, flight delays and long immigration queues.

"The Tourism Authority of Thailand TAT.L think numbers are going up so people must like it here, but the problem is the quality of their visit has gone down," said Larry Cunningham, Australia's Honorary Consul to Phuket, an island described by travel guide Lonely Planet as "one of the world's most famous dream destinations".

The government has vowed to tackle "mafias" in tourist areas, while in February, Cunningham appealed to Phuket's government to stop jet-ski operators who hire thugs and demand compensation for equipment damage renters did not cause.

Last year, a German television show broadcast footage of sewage pumped into the sea at popular Kata and Karon beaches.

The problems have so far failed to dull Thailand's centuries-old exotic allure. Its palm-fringed islands, gilded temples, spicy cuisine and racy nightlife helped draw 19 million visitors in 2011, generating 776 billion baht in revenue, up 31 percent from 2010, ministry data shows.

Even so, tourism's contribution to GDP has barely increased since 2003 and now hovers at 6 percent. And with unspoiled destinations in neighbouring Myanmar opening up, Thailand is under pressure to decide what type of tourism it wants.

Phuket, for example, is at risk of sharing the same fate as another beach destination: Pattaya.

"SIN CITY"

A two-hour drive from Bangkok, Pattaya struggles to shake off a seedy reputation as Thailand's "Sin City" and with red-light entertainment, crime and unchecked development, it is synonymous with sleaze and spoiled beaches.

"We still think of tourism too much in a opportunistic, money-making way," said opposition lawmaker and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij. "We are putting the future of the industry at risk."

Tourist safety is another pressing issue.

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile FIA.L- a motor sport governing body - shows Thailand has the highest U.S. tourist road fatality rate in the developing world, after Honduras. Britain's foreign office warns of robberies and "vicious unprovoked attacks by gangs" on the party island, Koh Phangan.

Some tourists say standards fell short of expectations.

"In general Thailand feels safe but tour guides and drivers are more aggressive," says Mattias Ljungqvist, 31, a Swede who first visited the country a decade ago.

The TAT says it does not have regulations to tackle crime head on and safety and environmental preservation issues are encumbered by local bureaucracy.

But with plans to promote Thailand to new markets in South America and Central Asia, there is little evidence of its tourism ambitions slowing down.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra last month said the government's tourism policy would focus on generating 2 trillion baht in revenue within five years. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to spend 2.6 billion baht on developing and promoting tourist attractions in 2013.

It hopes to attract 21 million visitors this year, among them big spenders.

"People who enjoy eco-tourism tend to spend a lot of money and we are definitely targeting that type of tourist," said Chattan Khunjara Na Ayudhya, a public relations director at TAT. (Editing by Jason Szep, Andrew R.C. Marshall and Ed Lane)

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/23/uk-thailand-tourism-idINLNE86M00A20120723

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No great suprise here...Things on the crime front is a bit out of control. I hope that they start to stop looking at just the number of arrivals and seriously try to fix the issues, as many people are already starting to flock to their neighbors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No great suprise here...Things on the crime front is a bit out of control. I hope that they start to stop looking at just the number of arrivals and seriously try to fix the issues, as many people are already starting to flock to their neighbors.

Last time I was in Phuket about a year ago, all of the Phi Phi Island and other similar trips were booked solid with Indian, Arab and Chinese families. Both brought their own food and drink and purchased nothing at any of the local stops they take you to.

That's an important point, they should quit looking at the arrival numbers and look at the overall tourism economy. They're driving away big spenders and attracting budget minded family travel. This is something that's happening across Thailand.

If you just believed the TAT arrivals number you would think the entire country is swimming in cash. But many business owners I know say that despite high arrival numbers their business is slower than normal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Last time I was in Phuket about a year ago, all of the Phi Phi Island and other similar trips were booked solid with Indian, Arab and Chinese families. Both brought their own food and drink and purchased nothing at any of the local stops they take you to.

That's an important point, they should quit looking at the arrival numbers and look at the overall tourism economy. They're driving away big spenders and attracting budget minded family travel. This is something that's happening across Thailand.

If you just believed the TAT arrivals number you would think the entire country is swimming in cash. But many business owners I know say that despite high arrival numbers their business is slower than normal.

This is very true some people seem to think the golden goose will be around forever and the tourists will keep flocking there!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is very true some people seem to think the golden goose will be around forever and the tourists will keep flocking there!!!
This is very true some people seem to think the golden goose will be around forever and the tourists will keep flocking there!!!

I called this one a long time ago. Affluent tourist and families who have money to spend aren't going to come to Thailand. TAT keeps comparing itself to Hong Kong and Singapore but they're not in the same class. I can see a world-class show like Lion King in Singapore and stay in the Marina Sands hotel which is (from what I hear) much nicer than even Thailand's best hotel.

So when TAT saw all of these rich Chinese and Indians going to Singapore and Hong Kong and spending $400 or $600 a night for hotels and spending 2x, 3x, or 5x what the average tourist in Thailand spends, they went after those markets like rabid dogs.

But they don't have the level of service, the English fluency (or in the case of both Singapore and Hong Kong, Chinese fluency), or the investment in infrastructure that Singapore and Hong Kong have.

Basically, Thailand (more specifically TAT) is telling those people, "We want your money, we just don't care about giving you good value." Not that the Oriental or some of Thailand's other 5-star hotels aren't world-class but you have to go outside and see the broken pavement, the lack of international entertainment, and the rip offs.

For instance, this month I was in Vegas. You won't find street vendors selling food on the Las Vegas strip. You won't find pirate DVD sellers. You won't find broken footpaths. It's illegal for a taxi to offer you a ride without using the meter. Vegas is designed to attract people who are going to spend money so they have designed the main tourist area to be as appealing as possible for tourists.

And this has been a problem for far too long for it to be fixed overnight. This will take decades to repair.

But it's a much deeper than that. It's an attitude. Even on my first visit to Thailand, despite the fact I loved Thailand, I couldn't help but notice that you got a feeling that most tourist-oriented businesses were in business to make the owner (Thai or farang) wealthy. Whether or not the customers were happy was not even a concern.

Of course, every business is in the business of making money but most businesses know that you can sheer a sheep many times but you can only skin it once. Instead of taking advantage of you a little bit over a long period of time, they're more likely to rip you off for as much as they can because they don't care if you ever come back.

Like you said, they think the golden goose will keep delivering to their business an endless flow of stupid tourists who will pay up and shut up.

Like the whole jet ski scam in Phuket. In the internet age information travels fast and even people who have never been to Thailand have seen television programs that warn them about Phuket scams. And when those people go to Phuket and don't rent jet skis the jet ski operators have the gall to be pissed off that they don't have anybody to scam.

Even now, when someone asks me for advice on visiting Thailand, one of their first questions is what scams they should avoid. Thailand's reputation amongst tourists is a place where you're likely to get scammed or ripped off. Go to Yahoo Answers and look at all of the people posting questions about scams in Thailand.

And now that many tourists are taking their holiday money to other places, all of these tourist-oriented businesses that have been ripping off tourists are scratching their head and saying, "Hey, what happened to that endless supply of dumb tourists?" It doesn't even need to be as blatant as the jet ski scam. It's the bill padding, that taxi mafias in Phuket and Pattaya, the pick pockets, the tuk-tuk drivers who force you to go to gem shops or tailors, etc, etc.

So TAT is replacing those dumb farang tourists with Indians, Chinese, Arabs, etc and they tend not to spend cash as freely as the farangs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...